Machiguenga people

Machiguenga people

The Machiguenga (also Machigenga, Matsigenka, Matsigenga) are an indigenous people of the Amazon Basin jungle regions of southeastern Peru, east of Machu Picchu and close to the borders of Bolivia and Brazil.[1][2] The people are short, but stoutly built, with broad facial features, and very rarely overweight.[2] Their culture is based around the hunter-gatherer concept, and they cultivate swidden agricultural plots. The main crop grown is cassava, and their main protein is a small rodent called paca. During the dry season, they also use fishing to supplement their dietary protein.[2]


Family life

The average tribal woman marries around age 16, and women have an average of eight to ten pregnancies. As with many indigenous tribes, the mortality rate for infants is high.[2] During meals, men always eat first, while the women and children divide what remains.[citation needed] While quite accomplished in using plants and herbs as medicine, the Machiguenga are susceptible to infectious diseases brought in from the outside world.[2] Literacy rates range from 30% to 60%.[3] The tribespeople wear a homemade tunic, called a cushmas, with a V neck for men, and straight neck for women.[4] Their huts are fashioned from palm tree poles as a frame, with palm leaves thatched for the roof.[4] Each extended family group is governed by a self-appointed "headman".[4] The Machiguenga are classified as animists in religion and believe in a variety of evil spirits.[4]


The Machiguenga language belongs to the Campa group of Machi puceran Maipurean (Arawakan) language family, which is spoken by approximately 12,000 people in Peru.[3][5] There are two dialects of Machiguenga: Machiguenga proper and Nomatsigenga.[5] Caquinte is also spoken, but is considered a distinctly different language.[5]


  1. ^ PBS (2008). "Native People of the Manu". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved January 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Ehtan Russo, M.D. (September 7, 2002). "The Machiguenga: Peruvian Hunter-Gatherers". Weston A. Price Foundation. Retrieved January 14, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition". SIL International. Retrieved January 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d CERT (2008). "Machiguenga Indians". Christian Emergency Relief Team. Retrieved January 14, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Native Languages of the Americas (2007). "Machiguenga Indian Language". Retrieved January 14, 2009. 

Further reading

  • The Storyteller (1987), novel by Mario Vargas Llosa that includes recounting of Machiguenga myths
  • Baksh, M. (1990) Time Allocation among the Machiguenga of Camana (Peru). New Haven, CT: HRAF Press.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Deyermenjian, G. (1988) Land Rights, Cultural Survival and Innovation among Indigenous Peoples of the Western Amazon Basin: The Case of the Machiguenga. Master's Thesis, Clark University, International Development Dept.
  • Henrich J et al. (2005) " 'Economic man' in cross-cultural perspective: Behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies", Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28:795-+
  • Ohl, J. 2004. The economy of the Matsigenka – ecotourism as a chance for sustainable development?, Ph.D. thesis, University of Greifswald, Greifswald.
  • Ohl, J. 2004, El eco-turismo como oportunidad para un desarrollo sostenible? Eschborn, Germany, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH.
  • Ohl, J., A. Wezel, G. H. Shepard Jr., and D. W. Yu. 2007. "Swidden agriculture in a human-inhabited protected area: The Matsigenka native communities of Manu National Park, Peru," in Environment, Development, and Sustainability
  • Ohl-Schacherer, J., G. H. Shepard Jr., H. Kaplan, C. A. Peres, T. Levi, and D. W. Yu. 2007. "The sustainability of subsistence hunting by Matsigenka native communities in Manu National Park, Peru", Conservation Biology 21:1174–1185.
  • Ohl-Schacherer, J., E. Mannigel, C. Kirkby, G. H. Shepard Jr, and D. W. Yu. 2008. "Indigenous ecotourism in the Amazon: A case study of “Casa Matsiguenka” in Manu National Park, Peru", Environmental Conservation.
  • Solís Fonseca, Gustavo. (2003). Lenguas en la amazonía peruana, Lima: edición por demanda.
  • Pancorbo, Luis: Río de América, Laertes. Barcelona, 2003.
  • Shepard GH (1997) "Noun classification and ethnozoological classification in Machiguenga, an Arawakan language of the Peruvian Amazon", The Journal of Amazonian Languages 1:20–57
  • Shepard G (1997) "Monkey hunting with the Machiguenga: medicine, magic, ecology and mythology", paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Meetings
  • Shepard GH (1998) "Psychoactive plants and ethnopsychiatric medicines of the Matsigenka", Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 30:321-332
  • Shepard GH (1999) "Resource use and ecology of the Matsigenka of the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Vilcabamba", In: Schulenberg TS (ed) A Rapid Biological Assessment of the Northern Cordillera Vilcabamba, Peru, vol RAP Working Papers No. 11. Conservation International, Washington, DC
  • Shepard GH (1999) Pharmacognosy and the Senses in two Amazonian Societies. In: Department of Anthropology. University of California, Berkeley
  • Shepard GH (1999) "Shamanism and diversity: A Matsigenka perspective", In: Posey DA (ed) Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity, vol U.N.E.P. Global Biodiversity Assessment, Vol 2. United Nations Environmental Programme and Intermediate Technology Publications, London, pp 93–95
  • Shepard GH, Rummenhoeller K (2000) "Paraiso para quem? Populções indígenas e o Parque Nacional do Manu (Peru)". In: XXII Reunião Brasileira de Antropologia. Fórum de Pesquisa 3: “Conflitos Socioambientais e Unidades de Conservação”, Brasília, Brasil
  • Shepard GH, Yu DW, Lizarralde M, Italiano M (2001) "Rain forest habitat classification among the Matsigenka of the Peruvian Amazon", Journal of Ethnobiology 21:1–38
  • Shepard GH, Yu DW (2001) "Verificación etnobotánica de imágenes de satélite: La intersección de conocimientos tradicionales y cientifícos", Debate Agrario 33:19–24
  • Shepard GH, Chicchón A (2001) "Resource use and ecology of the Matsigenka of the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Vilcabamba", In: Alonso LEea (ed) Social and Biological Assessments of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, Peru. Conservation International, Washington, DC, pp 164–174
  • Shepard GH (2002) Primates in Matsigenka subsistence and worldview. In: Fuentes A, Wolfe L (eds) Primates face to face. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 101–136
  • Shepard GH, Yu DW (2002) "Vanishing Cultures" (Comment). New York Review of Books 50:92
  • Shepard GH, Yu DW, Nelson B, Lizarralde M, Italiano M (2004) "Ethnobotanical Ground-Truthing and Forest Diversity in the Western Amazon", In: Maffi L, Carlson T, López-Zent E (eds) Ethnobotany and conservation of biocultural diversity, New York Botanical Gardens (Advances in Economic Botany), New York
  • Shepard GH (August 1998.) "Uncontacted native groups and petrochemical exploration in the Peruvian Amazon", In: International Society for Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES) Conference, Williamsburg, VA
  • Shepard GH, Rummenhoeller K, Ohl J, Yu DW (in press) "Trouble in paradise: indigenous populations, anthropological policies, and biodiversity conservation in Manu National Park, Peru", Journal of Sustainable Forestry
  • Yu DW, Shepard GH (1998) "Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?", Nature 396:321-322
  • Yu DW, Shepard GH (1999) "The mystery of female beauty", Nature 399:216
  • Yu DW, Proulx SM, Shepard GH (2008) "Masculinity, marriage, and the paradox of the lek", In: Swami V, Furnham A (eds) The Body Beautiful, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 88–107

External links

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